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Relman, Dane & Colfax and Department of Justice Settle Housing Discrimination Claims for $850,000

Plaintiffs in a major housing discrimination case against an Akron-Canton, Ohio area landlord have settled their claims for $850,000 and extensive injunctive relief. The Plaintiffs had filed the case under the federal and Ohio fair housing laws alleging that John Ruth, who owns and operates more than one hundred apartments in the Northeast, Ohio area, regularly discriminated against both African Americans and families with children.

Relman, Dane & Colfax represented six former tenants and the Stark County Fair Housing Department who alleged that they had been harmed by Mr. Ruth’s discriminatory policies. Ten former managers for Mr. Ruth came forward in the case, testifying that Mr. Ruth instructed them to lie to African Americans and families with children about unit availability. Mr. Ruth told managers that “we’re getting too many black people” and that they should “focus on white couples.” As Plaintiffs alleged, if managers resisted Mr. Ruth’s directions, they were fired or not allowed to lease any more units, and when managers did rent to African Americans or families with children, Mr. Ruth would manufacture false complaints to give him a reason to evict those tenants that he said were “not good for business.”

The individual Plaintiffs filed their complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio along with separate complaints filed by the United States and the State of Ohio. After extensive discovery, Mr. Ruth and his co-defendants filed nine motions for summary judgment against the Plaintiffs. Judge John Adams denied the motions, finding that there was more than sufficient evidence for a jury to find in favor of Plaintiffs on their discrimination claims. The settlement of the case includes the requirement that Mr. Ruth hire a professional management company to operate his apartment complexes.

The Relman, Dane & Colfax litigation team was led by Megan Cacace, Reed Colfax, and Tara Ramchandani.

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